Faletti has become a dedicated practitioner of Cane-Do, which combines his walking stick with martial arts techniques. The exercise, which originated in South Florida, is becoming popular with seniors nationwide, including at the Antioch Senior Center, where Faletti attends classes Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Whenever he hears a knock on the door, his cane is the first thing he grabs.
“I’ve had a stroke, and if somebody attacked me, I would have a very hard time defending myself,” Faletti said. “But now, I’m not scared.”
The Antioch Senior Center has hosted Cane-Do classes for a little more than a year, led by Robert Willson, a black belt in the martial art. Willson teaches seniors proper and useful self-defense techniques they can use in everyday life if they’re approached, attacked or threatened. Cane-Do utilizes elements of Hapkido, but substitutes a cane for a sword.
Hapkido black belt Jose Isidro, Willson’s sensei, helped champion Cane-Do to the Bay Area. Willson was exposed to the martial art in a class and has been teaching in the Bay Area it for several years.
Willson is gratified that more and more seniors have become interested in taking Cane-Do classes. When he started teaching at the Antioch Senior Cetner, 42 people showed up for the first session.
“We hope that we can shed some light and teach them basically how to protect themselves,” Willson said. “It’s an exercise platform … It doesn’t take a lot of strength or much effort to protect yourself. We don’t classify (the cane) as a martial art tool or a weapon. It’s not a weapon; it’s an assisted mobility device.”
Willson said Cane-Do has worked wonders for seniors battling health problems or who simply desire to get fit. “When I go out in my yard or when I’m doing whatever, I’ve always got my cane,” Faletti said. “If I answer the door at night, that’s the first thing I get. Just in case it’s not a friend.”
Since he started taking Cane-Do, Faletti has regained much of his arm strength – to the extent that he broke one of his canes during a class. Participants at the Antioch Senior Center became so grateful for Willson’s efforts that they turned a coffee can into a donation bin. Whenever possible, seniors drop in a couple dollars as a way of thanking their instructor. “Every senior citizen should take this class,” said Antioch resident Pat Gray. “It’s a great self-defense technique.”